Libyan Civil War: Two warring factions sign ‘permanent’ ceasefire

Photo: Reuters File

Libya's two warring factions signed a "permanent" ceasefire agreement yesterday after five days of talks at the United Nations, which hailed the deal as a historic moment following years of turmoil and bloodshed. 

"Today is a good day for the Libyan people," said Stephanie Williams, the UN's acting envoy to the troubled North African country, where a UN-recognised government in Tripoli has been battling a rival administration based in the east and dominated by military commander Khalifa Haftar.

"The two Libyan delegations... signed a complete, country-wide and permanent ceasefire agreement with immediate effect," she told journalists afterwards.

Williams said the parties agreed that "all military units and armed groups on the front lines shall return to their camps", while "all mercenaries and foreign fighters" must leave within three months.

Analysts have warned that further measures are needed to prevent spoilers undermining the deal in a country wracked by conflict for nearly a decade, since the overthrow and killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a Nato-backed uprising in 2011.

Since then, it has been dominated by armed groups, riven by local conflicts and divided between the two bitterly-opposed adminstrations.

Tripoli is held by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord, while a parliament based in the eastern city of Tobruk is backed by Haftar's forces.

But hopes for a solution rose after the two sides separately announced in August that they would cease hostilities.

Ahmed Abu Shahma, who headed the GNA delegation in Geneva, urged Libyans to come together and rebuild a united, stable country.

His opposite number Emrajaa Amhimmid Mohamad al-Amami said: "We have succeeded in achieving that which all Libyans which are looking forward to: the feeling of belonging to a nation and to spread peace and security."

The UN hopes the agreement will give fresh impetus to political and economic talks taking place in a parallel process.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the agreement was "a fundamental step toward peace and stability in Libya."

Haftar, supported by Russia, the UAE and Egypt, launched an offensive on Tripoli in April 2019 but was pushed back early this year as pro-GNA forces received crucial support from Turkey.

Fighting has since stalled around the central coastal city of Sirte, Gaddafi's home town.

Germany, which hosted a key Libya summit in January, called the deal a "ray of hope".

But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which backs the Tripoli government with military support, questioned the viability of the ceasefire.

"Today's ceasefire agreement was actually not made at the highest level, it was at a lower level. Time will tell whether it will last," Erdogan said. "So it seems to me that it lacks credibility."